Pointer, new digital platform for acclaimed Dutch datajournalists

Publishing / Media


Data journalism has an become an invaluable asset to today’s journalism. The Panama Papers and LuxLeaks for example, hugely impact the news and investigative journalism. In this field Dutch broadcaster KRO-NCRV has a solid reputation and much experience. Their data journalists will be using (big) data to report on Dutch topics, both online and on television. They’re new format is called Pointer.

Case description

Large quantities of data can help zoom in on very specific details on virtually any topic. It also allows for overview and distinguishing trends. The KRO-NCRV editorial staff supports their existing formats with datajournalism. Recent accolades by the Global Editors Network placed them among the most successful datajournalists in the world. Dutch broadcast networks NPO2 and KRO-NCRV have put datajournalism centerstage of their news and journalism formats. They also acknowledge the significance of it for innovation. The latest format is called Pointer, which will offer interactive stories based in investigative journalism supported by a television format.

The website will be an essential support mechanism for the TV broadcasts, simultaneously offering backgrounds on methods and data. The ultimate goal is to bring verifiable and transparent investigative journalism to a broad audience, allowing people to get involved.
LimoenGroen was contracted to create the the Pointer website in 2019.

Case goals and results

Pointer pursues visual storytelling based on data in an understandable way. Its aim is to bring stories that anyone can relate to, because they happen to touch the lives of everyone. Pointer editors will publish across online platforms available to them, using any suitable form, such as text, interactive graphics, shortform video, podcasts etcetera. Pointer will be a benchmark in Europe for dataresearch and datavisualisations.

“In 2019 we will be investigating the illegal fishing practises. One third of fish caught worldwide is illegal. The Global Fishing Watch publishes data useful for analysis and investigate journalism. Our project will focus on fish imported through the port of Rotterdam destined to be sold on the European market. “ — KRO-NCRV, Pointer

The website continuously offers new content, a place of visually appealing and well structured journalism. Every post will be visually augmented in order to make it quickly understandable for the public readers at large. User’s are enticed to get involved: expert opinions are welcomed to be added to the relevant topics. The website is going to be a playground for new means of investigative journalism. The Pointer team will remain agile and will adapt new methods, topics and visualisations based on insights and new developments. Several television broadcasts will be supported by Pointer’s dataresearch online. Digital visualisations will dissect their investigations step-by-step. The television format will be hosted by one of the investigators, taking viewers along the routes of the investigation and adding his or her own interpretations to them.


Frontend developers have a crucial role within the the Pointer staff as they are responsible for creating visually stunning graphics and data representations (https://pointer.kro-ncrv.nl/onderzoeken/explosieve-export/special ). We made sure this team of editors and developers are able to place these graphics on the Pointer website by accessing Javascript and Cascading Stylesheets from other KRO-NCRV servers. The newly created Cache Buster module helps to ensure updates on the exetrnal data gets reflected on the data graphics in the website.

Community contributions

Pointer uses Revue for mailcampaign management. Revue lacked a Drupal integration, up until now. We created the Drupal module for Revue, which got published open source. https://www.drupal.org/project/revue/

Why should this case win the splash awards?

We live in times where facts and fake news are hard to separate. Journalists who go to great lengths to investigate and support news coverage with in depth research and data are capable of separating facts from fiction. Technology should be in their service, not an obstacle. Drupal does just that for them. The Revue integration is a valuable marketing add on for Drupal. With Pointer we stretched Drupal to the extend it can serve as a platform that goes way beyond any informative website. Pointer improves news by publishing data facts, fast, reliable and based on open source.